By Godfrey Bivbere
Nigeria loses about $56Â Â billion annuallyÂ Â for bunkering service to 177,000 ships sailing from Singapore to United State of America (USA) and Europe to Angola and Coat Dâ€™Ivoire because of its unattractive ports operation.
Declaring this in Lagos Tuesday, Secretary of the Indigenous Shipowners Association of Nigeria (ISAN), Captain D. O. Labinjo, said Nigeria coastal waters is the half way point between Singapore and the USA and therefore would require fresh bunker to replenish their stock.
Labinjo who disclosed this when ISAN played host to the new Director General of the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Mr. Raymond Temisanre Omatseye, explained that a study made by him showed that 177,000 vessels passed through the nationâ€™s waters and should it be circulated at 50 tons of bunker per ship.
According to him, such vessels because of their size are forced to â€œmove toward South Africaâ€™s â€œCape of Good Hope,â€ then up towards Dakar, then to either America or Europe but by the time they get to front of Nigeria, if you look at the distance, they are half way.â€
â€œ… because they are half way, usually their bunkers would have finished. If our ports were attractive, they would have stopped to buy bunkers. So we now calculated, we say okey let us assume that they are taking only 50 tons of bunker each time they get to Nigeria, whereas they take more than that and we discovered that they would have spent $56 billion in one year. Whereas some of them take more then 5,000 tons, so you can image what we are losing for making our ports unattractive.â€
He further noted that as a result of the nationâ€™s unattractive ports, these vessels seek alternative in â€œAngola and Abidjan to escape Nigeria. So it is very sad, it is very, very sad and we need to do something about it.â€
He also frowned at oil traders acquisition of abandoned vessels from the developed countries to take over the petroleum freight trade in the nationâ€™s coastal area after setting up their own shipping companies in the country.
In his words, â€œAll these oil traders, name them Chatigura, Addex, Decom, they have also now set up shipping companies in Nigeria or around Nigeria. Those their shipping companies, have cheaply bought all those ships that can not work again in Europe and have brought them to Nigeria.â€
â€œSo when their mother vessel brings in their cargo to Nigeria, their small daughter vessel will be used to take delivery of the product. Say I stand here, my ship has not worked for seven months.
You can call any body on my ship, they have earned salary for seven months, where will I get money to pay them? It is when they work that we will have money, I be able to pay their salaries and I will have some money in my pockets.â€